Less Wrong is a community blog devoted to refining the art of human rationality. Please visit our About page for more information.

BrandonReinhart comments on The Apologist and the Revolutionary - Less Wrong

161 Post author: Yvain 11 March 2009 09:39PM

You are viewing a comment permalink. View the original post to see all comments and the full post content.

Comments (91)

You are viewing a single comment's thread.

Comment author: BrandonReinhart 12 March 2009 06:50:27AM *  25 points [-]

Wow, Google Scholar is awesome.

According to Wikipedia, vestibular stimulation has been used by audiologists to examine certain syndromes: depending on the temperature of the water your eyes turn in different directions.

From there it was apparently used in inquiries into vertigo. This study contains MRI results of individuals undergoing vestibular stimulation and this one is working to break down which parts of the brain are responsible for which effects of vestibular stimulation.

Looking at a few other studies' abstracts (I can't afford to buy all these studies!) leads me to suspect that a whole lot of brain parts are affected by the process of squirting water into your ear and that it may take some time to isolate which parts are responsible for which effects. There are also different types of effects: the effect of the temperature change on tissue, increased blood flow, blood flowing with modified temperature through certain areas, etc.

Is it too obvious to say one should be wary about practicing techniques drawn from neuroscience journals upon oneself?

There is one area (I found in overviewing the subject) where the cold water trick results in a specific result in a damaged brain but no related result in a functional brain: covert attention. People who have difficulty focusing attention on one side of their body are marginally corrected by the cold water trick biasing their attention toward the bad side. People who have no issues with covert attention don't become over-biased when subject to the cold water trick. The paper relates this (seemingly?) to the vertigo effect: "In particular, they argue against explanations of neglect solely in terms of a pathological misperception of body orientation within an otherwise normal neural representation of space."

Interesting related problem: Pusher Syndrome.

It may be that normal brains would experience no change in the function of rationality compared to arbitrarily damaged brains. The effects of vestibular stimulation are so varied that using it to affect some specific result sounds like the neuroscientific equivalent to hitting the TV on the side to clear static.